Mother Teresa was Albanian, as was John Belushi’s father.
Albanians today adore Frank Sinatra songs, midcentury San Francisco (though not the Sodom they say it’s become), and George W. (They love our former presidents because, as one Albanian told me, they have "big, man-sized balls," and with NATO, they sent the jets that decimated the Serbians during the Balkan conflict.)There are other important facts: Albanians shake their head "no" when they mean "yes," and "yes" for "no," which can really confuse a visitor, especially when drunk or engaged in heated debate.
It borders Montenegro and Kosovo to the north, Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south. They speak Albanian, an Indo-European language with traces of Greek and Latin—and the lek is their monetary denomination, which trades at one hundred to one on the dollar.
If you know nothing about "the Land of the Eagles," relax. Their food is excellent, a mélange of Greek, Turkish, and Italian cuisine, all very fresh and legume-y.
Today these sworn virgins live on, but their numbers have dwindled. What happens when the society that created you no longer needs you? They were color portraits, shot recently, seemingly of old men who’d lived a little.
At least that’s what the evidence suggested: They were dressed as old men, and the camera seemed to regard them as old men, if from another time, like the ’40s or ’50s.
But there was something in the eyes, and sometimes the hands, even the carriage of bones—a softness that made me wonder.
The more I gazed upon the photographs, the more I noticed something else.
There were strict rules and reasons for this transformation, ones that had been established some 500 years earlier, as part of a medieval canon of laws known as the Kanun. I stared at the photographs for so long, pondering these questions, that I lost track of time. He wore a leather jacket, slacks hiked high, and a plaid shirt.Today possibly only a few dozen posed and gazed dreamily, disappeared behind clouds of cigarette smoke or sat erect in a chair, surrounded by family, smiling beneficently. And it occurred to me that perhaps I was looking upon the rarest thing of all, complete actualization. He possessed a gray mop of hair, and his eyes resembled those of Charles Bronson.Even though he was 71 years old, he seemed boyish and lithe, if a little humped.They tap their heart to show ultimate respect for you, but when driving, they will attempt to crush you.
The country is riddled with pocked, at times impassable roads, so that one seems to bounce up and down as much as go forward here—which makes the daily Grand Prix all the more stomach-churning.
He spit and smoked and milked the cows, just as he put each leg through his pants in the morning.